February 21, 2008: The New Wild West (with semi-automatic weapons)
February 21, 2008
I am so sick of reading about school shootings that I am ready to move to another country. Maybe I will go to Japan (Japan: rate of intentional gun deaths per 100,000 people: 0.7. Oops! I forgot a zero—it’s actually 0.07).
Or I could move to Kuwait (0.37 intentional gun deaths per 100,000), or the land of my ancestors, Scotland (0.49 per 100,000), or even Northern Ireland (4.72 per 100,000). I might be happy in Australia (2.94 per 100,000) or Israel (2.56 per 100,000) or France (5.48 per 100,000. (Who would have thought France had more gun deaths than Northern Ireland?)
It’s a dilemma. I love my country but I don’t feel particularly safe here anymore. In the land of the free and the home of the brave, aka the New Wild, Wild West (only this time with semi-automatic weapons) there are 13.47 intentional gun deaths per 100,000 per year. The country that is closest to us in this abysmal statistic is Finland, with 6.65 intentional gun deaths per 100,000 citizens. When you cross-reference the number of deaths simply with the number of households that contain firearms, it gets a little weird. Grumpy Finland, who still has about half the amount of gun deaths as the United States, shows that fully half its households contain guns which is more than the United States, at 41 percent. Japan, which has a rate of gun violence so low that the shooting of a single person is front page news, has only 0.6 households with guns, to match up with death rate of 0.07. But why do countries like Finland and Norway (32 percent of households with firearms) have all these guns and not use them, while we do?
I don’t have an answer for this, or even an opinon, but I do have a forecast: If our gun laws don’t change, we are going to see more school shootings, mall shootings, street shootings, fatal domestic disputes, teenage suicides and all manner of horror perpetrated by people on the edge with access to firearms. This is not the kind of situation that gets better on its own. This is a public health crisis that demands intervention by people who aren’t invested in the perpetuation of a myth, but take the long view on society and civilization. In other words, I’d like to see my children grow up without fear of gunshot when they go to school or a mall, and if I hear one more person cite the Second Amendment in defense of an emotionally disturbed young person with an AK-47, I’m going to puke.
You can bet that whoever gets my vote in November is not going to be in the pocket of the National Rifle Association, and will be someone who will look at the above statistics and say, ‘we can do a hell of a lot better than Finland’.
There are lots of ways to get involved. I belong to PAX. (Paxusa.org)